The Kirkwood women’s basketball team was crowned NJCAA national champs against Morton College on March 19. This caps off a fantastic one-loss season for the Eagles. This also marks Kirkwood’s 8th national title win.
With two All-American selections in Ashley Tull and Kortney Drake and the NJCAA DII Women’s Head Coach of the Year in Kim Muhl, this team had the makings to challenge for a national championship. Muhl said after the game, “We knew we could be pretty good. We had kids who were coming back and we were coming off of a season of 24-2. So, we thought we could be pretty good.”
It was a hard fought game with the Eagles finding themselves down going into the fourth quarter 36-29. Muhl said that Morton’s defense was hard to beat. “They play a very different type of defense. It’s hard to prepare for them in less than a day.”
A 20-point fourth quarter from the Eagles got them the comeback win.
No. 5 sophomore Tasia Jordan came up crucial in the fourth scoring 15 points straight and was later named the tournament MVP. She led both teams in scoring with 16 points total for the game. Muhl said, “She was just in another zone. She was unbelievable.”
No. 50 Ashley Tull, who was named NJCAA D II Player of the Year, was also a big contributor in the game racking up 16 rebounds and 9 points. Sophomores No.11 Tati Hodges-Johnson and No. 1 Karsyn Stratton both put up 11 points in the game.
This was by far Kirkwood’s toughest test throughout the tournament, with the Eagles winning by an average of 27 points in the previous three games. This experienced team showed they knew how to win in this tournament and it ultimately paid off for them. Muhl said, “They were a very focused group. They thought they had unfinished business from the year before.”
The Eagles will look to reload for next season with plenty of new faces and a younger team. The Eagles have certainly earned their right to rest and celebrate this season’s success.